Students test robot skills for reactor decommissioning in Fukushima contest

4 December 2016

Engineering students from around Japan participated in a contest in Naraha town, Fukushima Prefecture, on Dec. 3 to test the performance of robots for decommissioning work at a mock facility modeled on Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant crippled by the 2011 earthquake and ensuing accident.

At the first "Creative Robot Contest for Decommissioning" held at the Naraha Remote Technology Development Center of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, the top prize (education and science minister’s award) went to a team from the Osaka Prefecture University College of Technology. A team from the National Institute of Technology, Fukushima College, of Iwaki city won a special prize, the Atox award.

The contest was organized by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and the Decommissioning Human Resource Development Consortium, a council of technical colleges and other parties cooperating to promote research and education related to decommissioning. It was held to raise student interest in decommissioning work in the wake of the nuclear disaster and nurture talented individuals willing to take on the hard job of decommissioning, which is expected to take several decades. A total of 15 teams from 13 colleges of technology took part, including the Fukushima school.

The teams took on robotic challenges such as making a robot ascend a stairway and looking into an object placed far away, both through remote control. Students took pains to restart stalled robots and also coped with other unexpected difficulties.

(Translated by Kyodo News)